Kesha at SXSW. Photograph: Katrina Barber/Getty Images for SXSW
Pop star Kesha spoke about the internet abuse she has suffered, which has seen the singer pare back her online presence dramatically, and her struggles with eating disorders at an emotionally charged SXSW event.
Speaking at a session that discussed ways to reclaim the internet, the star said she only uses the web to connect with her fans but no longer finds it a space she feels comfortable in. “I use the internet to connect to my fans but aside from that, it’s not a healthy place for me,” she said. Comment sections have also become a no-go zone for her.
“Especially not posting comments. I try to limit myself in terms of reading comments because there can be a million positive ones, but I always gravitate towards the one negative one. I hold on to that and I internalize it and I know it’s an unhealthy habit. I’ve stopped reading comments.”
Kesha also spoke about her battle with body dysmorphia and bulimia, which she said almost killed her after doctors said she was so weakened by the disease that they were surprised she hadn’t had a stroke.
“I want to talk about it because I want to help people,” she said, visibly moved. “It can kill you. I almost died. I came very close, closer than I ever knew. By the time I entered rehab they were surprised I hadn’t had a stroke because I wasn’t consuming enough of anything.”
She added that when she was at her lowest point during her eating disorder was when people complimented her on how well she looked. “I was starving and people used to say ‘Wow, you look so great. Keep doing what you’re doing’. And little did they know they were encouraging me to starve myself to death.”
She added that a turning point came when she began to ignore online abuse and focus her attention on her own well-being. “Criticism used to tear me up inside,” she said. “I was making trolls, I was making bullies, I was making people who I’d never met before who were projecting their insecurities on to me on the internet, I was making them the truth. I was really sad.”
In order to cope with the stresses of online abuse Kesha, who has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with her former producer Dr Luke, who she claims raped and abused her, undertook a “shit ton of therapy” and created music.
“Over the past couple of years I feel like I’ve become a woman in a lot of ways because I’m kind of reclaiming my personal space, my body, my music, and my life. With online it’s important to reclaim that space too.”
“When I first came out as an artist I thought I had to be really tough and I was really young and I had no fucking idea what I was doing,” she said. “I thought to overcompensate I had to act really tough and act like nothing affected me, I thought that was strength. I’ve since realized I’ve found a lot of strength in my vulnerabilities. A lot more people can relate to that.”
“I think the world should be a safe space, I think America should be a safe place and I definitely think the internet should be a safe place,” she said.
The singer’s case against Dr Luke became a focal point for fans and other acts worldwide who spoke out in support of Kesha. Stars including Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham spoke out, and in Swift’s case donated $250,000 to Kesha’s legal fund.
One lawsuit was filed in California and dropped by Kesha in August 2016; another in New York was dismissed by a judge in April 2016. The verdicts essentially meant Kesha was tied to a contract with the producer who she alleged had raped her.
Dr Luke, whose real[“Source-theguardian”]